Jail healthcare provider sued for bowel obstruction death of inmate

Sasha Garvin

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Sasha Garvin

Sasha Garvin’s mother sues NaphCare for failing to act to save her daughter from an ‘excruciating death’

Sasha Garvin, a sufferer of Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel disease, repeatedly told NaphCare medical personnel in the Montgomery County Jail that she had severe abdominal pain and needed to go to a hospital, according to a lawsuit brought by Garvin’s mother.

The medical negligence/wrongful death lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court claims Garvin wasn’t seen by the jail’s doctor or transported to a hospital despite having abnormal vital signs, feeling cold and clammy and saying her pain level was a 10.

RELATED: Inmate to jail staff: ‘She’s dead. She’s been dead for a while’

Garvin was found dead in a cell two days later on May 19, 2017. Garvin, 27, died of an acute small bowel obstruction, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. Jail officials once had said a drug overdose was suspected.

“There were multiple opportunities for NaphCare and NaphCare personnel to give her the proper medical treatment that she needed that could have prevented her death,” said Douglas Brannon, attorney for Garvin’s mother, Anne Johnson. “They failed. Failed to act.

“The family is looking for justice as far as seeing that the death of her daughter doesn’t go unnoticed and that the practices that led to her death are addressed so that other people don’t get hurt.”

RELATED: Mother wants answers answers about daughter’s death in jail

The chief legal officer for Birmingham, Ala.-based NaphCare, Bradley Cain, said Wednesday that he is reviewing the complaint and will evaluate a possible move to federal court.

Cain also said Naphcare’s July 2017 comments “still stand today.” That statement read, in part, “The recent death of Sasha Garvin is a tragic loss. While we can’t discuss the specifics of patient care due to privacy laws and ethical obligations, every day NaphCare works hard and innovates to save lives and improve patient health.”

The named defendants include NaphCare, nurses April Merkt, Greg Mills, Pamela Mitchell, Darrell Rader and Dr. Brenda Ellis.

RELATED: Woman dies in jail of bowel obstruction, not overdose

The suit doesn’t name Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer or jail employees, but Brannon said that could change.

He said there is a one-year statute of limitations for medical negligence claims but a two-year statute for federal civil rights allegations.

“It certainly has the ability and very well could proceed in federal court at a later date with the additional defendants being sheriff’s office employees,” Brannon said.

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A sheriff’s office spokeswoman said an internal investigation into Garvin’s death is ongoing.

If Plummer and county employees are named, it would be at least the 11th lawsuit against jail staff in the past few years.

Of the other 10, four have reached settlements totalling $888,000 plus legal fees, a fifth was successfully defended after a trial in Dayton’s U.S. District Court, while the others are pending.

Here are the settlements:

  • Amber Swink: $375,000, August 2017
  • Marsha Pate-Strickland: $75,000, October 2017
  • Darryl Wallace: $58,000, November 2017
  • Emily Evans: $380,000, November 2017.

RELATED: Jury sides with Montgomery County in jail mattress civil rights case

In the Garvin suit, the claims include that nurses didn’t take Garvin’s complaints seriously, that her concerns were passed off to other shifts, that she was given two bags of ice for pain and that Dr. Ellis never saw Garvin in person.

“Her blowing it off, for lack of a better word, or failing to take personal action is what caused the death of Sasha Garvin,” Brannon said of Ellis.

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The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory relief, funeral expenses, attorney fees, interest and other relief.

Brannon said Garvin suffered an excruciating death where she was doubled over in extreme pain and unable to function until she succumbed to it.

“That’s what happened to Sasha,” he said.


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